By Mark A. Kellner
A fire has tragically gutted Notre-Dame de Paris, the beloved Roman Catholic cathedral that has stood in the French capital for more than 850 years.
According to USA Today, “Shocked crowds gathered on streets, bridges, and squares to watch the iconic church burn out of control.” Flames also engulfed the cathedral’s iconic spire, leading to its eventual collapse. Other reports indicate that many near the scene knelt in prayer and sang religious songs as they watched the inferno destroy the national treasure.
It is next to impossible to overestimate the importance of the cathedral to French citizens. The brainchild of King Louis VII, Notre-Dame stands at the heart of Paris, sitting on a site believed to have once been a pagan Roman temple. Today, it draws as many as 13 million visitors a year, which is more than the Eiffel Tower.
Along with its famous exterior gargoyle sculptures, the cathedral’s artworks, relics, and the five stained-glass windows in rose designs elicit awes from tourists, art students, and the religious and secular alike. And whatever the physical and emotional toll of the blaze, the fire could refocus attention on the role of faith in French society.
Though today’s France is one of the most secular nations in Europe, the cathedral remains a dominating presence—even despite the famous French laïcité, or secularism, fostered in the nation following the French Revolution, during which religious influence was removed from policymaking and the state was prohibited from interfering in religious matters.
As we pray for the people of France during their national tragedy, please also pray for Pastor Doug Batchelor, who, in just over a week, will be in Paris to present four nights of evangelistic presentations in conjunction with the ASI Europe Convention. Bringing the everlasting gospel to the historic city is a major undertaking, and Pastor Doug and the rest of the Amazing Facts team ask for your prayers before, during, and following these meetings in the aftermath of the Notre-Dame fire.